On May 4, 1902, Booker T. Washington, described at the time by the Red Bank Register as “probably the foremost negro statesman in the United States,” was hosted by T. Thomas Fortune, the noted African American journalist and advocate, at Fortune’s Maple Hall home in Red Bank. Prominent leaders from New York and Philadelphia came to Red Bank to pay their respects and discuss urgent matters of the day. Local clergy urged Washington to speak at a local church, which he said he would be happy to do during the summer. Fortune, Washington, and their guests then took a driving tour through Rumson and Long Branch. The meeting was of sufficient importance to warrant page one newspaper coverage, reflecting the high level of interest in the ongoing national dialogue over race and civil rights.
Source: Booker Washington in Town. Red Bank Register, May 7, 1902, page 1.